A Closer Look: Olive Tree Flowers

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Olive tree flower is a beautiful petite offspring of its tree. The olive tree flower is most famous for its olive fruit, which is used for producing extra virgin olive oil or as an appetizer and an ingredient in many dishes. No doubt, olive tree owners enjoy the best of its olive fruits and the beauty of the olive flowers.

If you are interested in these evergreen trees, let this article walk you through it:

* The Appearance of Olive Tree Flower

* Olive Flowering Season and Growth Needs

* Reasons of Olive Tree Flower Drop

* Pest and Diseases Affecting Olive Flowers

olive tree flowers look care

What Do Olive Tree Flowers Look Like?

Olive tree flowers are very small flowers clustered in long inflorescences (a group of small flowers arranged on a stem). Flower buds form in the axils of leaves and each inflorescence contains 10 – 30 flowers depending upon the genotype and the position of the inflorescence and the twig that bears it.

Olive flowers have four petals, which are in white or creamy white color.

olive tree flowers appearance
Beautiful olive tree flowers are small and have 4 petals

Olive tree flowers produce 3 species: male, female and hermaphrodite.

Female species (aka perfect or pistillate flowers) are complete flowers with 2 stamens and 2 fuse ovaries – contain both male and female parts. The female flower is dependent on the male flower for pollination and is capable of developing into olive fruits.

The male flower (aka staminate flower) does not have pistils and contains only the pollen-producing parts. Needed for pollination and fruit set.

Hermaphrodite flower is fully functional with male and female reproductive organs within the same flower. The proportion of hermaphrodite flowers depends on the genotype or cultivar, and the environmental factors such as the position of the branch, the position of the inflorescences on the twig, and the position of the twig, the temperature at the meiosis stage.

Mostly olive flowers are bee or wind-pollinated, and fruits can be produced only by female or pistillate flowers.

olive tree flowers are petite white color with 4 petals
Olive tree flowers are blooming in spring up until they get pollinated

Read more about self-pollinating and cross-pollinating olive trees here.

What Do Olive Tree Flowers Smell Like?

For each flowering olive tree, there is a slight, lovely fragrance.

olive tree flower vs olive
Olive flower size versus olive fruit

Olive Tree Flowering Season and Growth Needs

Olive tree flowers in mid-spring after the temperature exceeds 70°F (21°C). In the Mediterranean region, the olive tree starts flowering in April and has its blooming season around April – May.

The vegetative growth from last year will flower and bear the fruit in the current year. Interestingly, the main aspect of the development of inflorescences is temperature. The cold season with a temperature lower than 10°C = 50°F is required to induce olive flowers (inflorescences) appearance in April-May in the Mediterranean climate zone.

The length of full blossoming varies year a year in a range of six weeks. Also, early blossoming ensure better crop yield than late blossoming.

Flower number will vary between growing season and olive tree variety. For example, only 1 – 2% of flowers will set olive fruit successfully for low self-fertile index olive cultivar.

Depending on olive tree variety and growing conditions, the olive tree takes 3 to 5 years of growth until they start producing their first harvest. They become fully producing after 8 – 10 years.

RegionOlive Tree Flowering Months
The western USAApril – May
UKJune – July
AustraliaSeptember – November
Mediterranean April – May
Olive Tree Flowering Season Months

Olive tree is relatively easy to grow and nurture. Although this tree does not grow well in cold seasons, it thrives well in the warmer seasons.

The olive tree has minimal growing needs, however, it needs most of the water during the growth and flowering season. Even if it has a unique drought resistance feature, watering once a week is all it needs to keep flowering and blooming.

fruiting is next stage after flowering
Once olive tree flower is pollinated, the olive fruit is set

Reasons for Olive Tree Flower Drop

With the right olive tree care and pruning, you can have beautiful petite olive tree flowers and a heavy olive harvest afterward. However, environmental consistency is essential to flower and fruit sets of olive trees. Any sudden change can cause olive fruit or flower drop on olive trees.

Environmental Changes

Olive trees are sensitive to changes in their environment. Sudden fluctuations in temperature or climate can lead to olive tree flowers falling off. For example, late blossoming increases the risk of heatwaves on flowers that may prevent flowers to open, with a risk to damage pollens if opened.

Also, drought stress does not affect so much the proportion of olive flower buds but may affect severely the fruit set due to an increase in the proportion of male flowers.

Olive trees grow best in a sunny, permanent site where they can actively grow year-round. They require full sun for healthy flowers and fruit production and may drop flowers if they are placed in too much shade.


Olive tree flowers are not tolerant to frost. Unseasonably cold spring weather in areas that normally stay warm may cause olive tree flowers to drop on outdoor trees. Frost nipped olive tree flowers and buds will turn brown and mushy, then drop from the tree.

Transition Shock

In cooler climates, olive trees are often grown in containers and moved inside or out depending upon the weather. These potted olive trees can be even more prone to olive tree flower drop or leaf drop because of the frequent environmental changes they experience as they are moved in and out.

olive fruit set after flowering
White olive flowers turn into small olive fruits

Cool Drafts and Watering Issues

Olive tree flowers falling off a potted olive tree may also be caused by cool drafts, as well as under or overwatering. An olive tree dropping flowers may be a sign of drought or other changes in watering.

When water is scarce, an olive tree will drop flowers or fruit to conserve energy. Flooding, waterlogged soil, or over-watering can also cause olive flower drop. Olives grow best in well-draining soil with regular irrigation, especially in times of intense heat and/or drought.

Nutrients Deficiency

Olive trees are generally acclaimed for their ability to grow in poor, under-fertile soils. However, olive tree flowers falling off an olive tree can be a sign of a potassium deficiency.

Potassium is vital for flower and fruit set, and the overall health and vigor for most of the trees. If you wish for healthy, high yields from your olive trees, begin a fertilizing regiment in early spring with a fertilizer high in potassium or designed specifically for olive trees.

what is the best fertilizer for olive trees in pots
Read more on olive tree fertilizing

Pest and Diseases of Olive Tree Flower

A significant problem for the olive tree flower maybe pests and diseases, known to render many trees to ruin. Many of them are not a regular occurrence, but knowing how to care for them is a necessity for all olive tree growers.

Lets look into few of pest insects on olive tree flowers and the way on how to best to handle them.

Olive Psyllid

Psyllid is an insect which feeds on buds, flowers, tender shoots and small fruits, damaging tissues. They extract honeydew and entices sooty molds. Also, this honeydew limits photosynthesis.

Poor care and olive tree negligence can cause flower and small fruit to drop. Eventually, cause a significant yield reduction around 30% to 60%.

For maintenance and treatment, begin by pruning infected twigs, leaves, branches and fruits. In extreme cases, turn to insecticides for control.


Alphids is an insect infestation that leaves the olive tree weak and stunted. Symptoms come in rots and mold on fruits or dropping flowers. Affected plants transmit the insects.

For control, clean up the surrounding of the olive tree and take away parts that have shown a sign. You can also use water at a high force to wash the olive tree free, and in extreme cases, an insecticide is advised.

Scale Insects

All areal parts of olive tree can be affected by scale insects. Severe infestations can cause olive flower drops, leaf and fruit fall, yield reduction.

how to remove scale insects on olive trees in pots guide
Read more about scale insects prevention

Others include:

* Leaf-footed plant bugs

* Mealybug

* Olive fruit fly

* Verticillium Wilt

Generic FAQ on Olive Tree Flower


From the Olive Flower to the Drupe by C. Breton and A. Berville

Read Next

olive tree not fruiting not producing

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Are You Looking to Buy an Olive Tree? 

If you are looking to add more potted trees or other plants to your orchard, or if you like to replace a neglected olive tree, the best places to get them are your local nursery or an online nursery.

One of the most reliable and the world's largest online nurseries is Fast Growing Trees. They deliver fast, neat, and healthy plants backed with a 30-day guarantee.14400 140091914400

2 thoughts on “A Closer Look: Olive Tree Flowers”

  1. Robert A Jones

    My six and a half year old olive trees have not produced any flowers again this year and the next door neighbours tree is covered in flowers. Why?

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